Helping Hands gets a facelift

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Helping Hands of Cass County Director Mary Tompi shows off the new awning, which was put up in April. (Leader Photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Helping Hands of Cass County Director Mary Tompi shows off the new awning, which was put up in April. (Leader Photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

With the economy still on the mend, the need for Helping Hands of Cass County has been as strong as ever.

Over the last two years, Helping Hands has nearly doubled the number of people it serves.

Now, in its 29th year, and thanks to some generous donations in 2012, Helping Hands was able to give its facility in downtown Cassopolis a facelift earlier this year with the purchase of new awnings.

“We ordered it last year and they installed it in April,” Helping Hands Director Mary Tompi said. “We had really good sales last year and we had good donations, so we decided the building needed a facelift.”

Helping Hands is not a federally funded program, but rather it counts on the donations from the community, churches and its business partners. The sales from the thrift shop stay within the organization and help to fund the services it provides its clients.

Recent economic woes may have increased the need for Helping Hands, but it did not hinder its ability to provide for its clients.

“Thanks to our community and business partners our pantry has stayed full and we were able to provide food boxes for 650 families in 2012,” Tompi said. “People in the community really care about us and want to keep us running and keep the pantry going.”

In 2012, Tompi said they helped 75 clients with utility assistance and 25 individuals needing medicine. Requests for service in 2013 are trending upward.

“Our client services have doubled in the last two years,” she said. “Three years ago, it was about 300 we served a year. Now it’s up to almost 700. We have really seen an increase with the economy as bad as it is. We have kept up with it thanks to generous donations from everybody.”

Among the things you can find in the thrift shop for sale are antique and vintage items, along with clothing for all ages. Donations have also included gently used furniture, televisions and miscellaneous household items.

Helping Hands provides low-income families with assistance with clothing, household items, co-payments on prescription medicine and limited utility assistance. These programs are available only through an outer-agency referral from the Department of Human Services, Community Action Agency, a pastor or a medical treatment facility.

Donations are always welcome. Helping Hands can even provide donors with a receipt for their tax preparation. Tompi said that donors could call 445-8104 or email them at if they have any questions about what can be donated.

Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.